I know some of you immediately did as I, and started humming along to the song by R&B superstar Aaliyah (RIP) when you read the title. Oh, how I wish the concept of age could be as melodic and sappy-sweet as the catchy little 90s tune Aaliyah belted out. But sadly, it’s not.
Age is one of those things that’s tricky to point to, and pin down from person to person. You just never know, based on a person’s life’s experiences, exposure, course of growth or path of healing why they do what they do or how they don’t seem to know any better. I often hear, or have said things like, “she’s old enough to know better”, “I’m too old to be going through this”, “I’m old enough to be over this by now”, or “If he/she/ acted his/her age things would be better”. Prince even said, “act your age mama, not your shoe size.” (I just threw that in for laughs!)
Age, however, has taught me that it ain’t nothing but a number. There’s a story that’s probably much deeper, or sometimes darker than we can possibly imagine that explains, not necessarily excuses, why a person is the way he or she is. Expectations, based simply on how long a person has been on earth are unfair, unrealistic and often unmet. It takes more than the passing of years and blowing out birthday candles to grow, know, learn, heal, adjust, adopt, adapt, trust, change and learn to maintain. It takes wisdom, love, sound advice, patience, persistence, prayer, support, different actions, new reactions, culture shifts, environmental changes, mentors, make-overs, a little bit of kicking, possibly a whole lot of screaming, and a final surrender to the thought of deserving the best and doing whatever to receive it.
So the next time you think of holding yourself or someone else hostage by your “ought to be this or that by now because of age” assumptions don’t. Don’t lower your standards, but do increase the empathy, the prayers and even the support if you can to help. Trust me. You’ll do yourself and others a big favor when you do, because after all, age ain’t nothing but a number.
(Now carry on with your hum along…)